Inside Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center

COLUMBUS Ohio — Acura’s long-gestating NSX supercar is set to finally begin production this April, with the first cars ready to be delivered to customers by early next year. But this is only after what many described as the car’s development hell. Concept after concept, auto show after auto show, Acura spent almost 10 years teasing the public, something that only heightened our expectations of the successor to the now-beloved, Ayrton Senna-approved, original NSX.

That extended timeline, however, was partly due to Acura’s commitment to building the new NSX in the good ole’ U.S. of A. Acura didn’t have the space or the tooling before to complete such a project; this meant the company had to build an all-new building capable of turning out a world-class supercar. To accomplish Acura’s goal, it built the Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) just outside of Columbus. And to give us a better view into the preparation, Acura has been completing before the NSX officially gets into the public’s hands, the company gave us a tour of its state-of-the-art facility where almost every piece of the new NSX is built.

Acura NSX PMC Factory Tour homepage

Walking through the doors of the PMC resembles an industrial estate in the middle of the English countryside not with Acura on the door but McLaren. As you walk through the lobby and through the LCD doors with the Japanese character for “Dream” etched into its glass, it becomes immediately apparent why it took Acura so long to debut the new NSX. Everything in this building had to be built from scratch, and as the building was being constructed Acura’s engineers found ways to improve the site, which further led to 12 new patents.

The NSX’s aluminum space frame is welded meticulously by a series of machines that precisely place each weld, which is normal for almost every car built today. However, Acura takes a step further and has one of the company’s “master builders” inspect each of the welds. And if those welds are unsatisfactory, these master builders will grind out that individual weld and then re-weld it all by hand. It’s a labor-intensive process that Acura states ensures the highest quality in each NSX the company builds.

That meticulous nature continues throughout the plant as the entire PMC is shaped to allow the NSX to be moved through the production line in a seamless order. The aluminum is treated in the back of the PMC in a multi-stage paint prep bath. It’s then sent to another master builder who paints on plastic sealant guaranteeing that the car’s inner structures aren’t exposed to the elements. After another technician verifies those seals are solid, the NSX begins its multi-layer paint process, which in itself is a sight to behold.

Unlike other manufacturing facilities, Acura’s PMC paint booth is wholly visible, allowing customers and engineers alike to view the entirety of the painting process. Floor to ceiling glass windows encompass the paint booth. It’s a momentously impressive feat of engineering done purely for aesthetics, which we absolutely applaud. As the NSX is moved out of the paint booth, the supercar is hand-assembled.

Acura NSX PMC Factory Tour Shake and paint check

The culmination of the NSX production line is three tests areas. A dynamometer where the engineers make sure the engine, brakes, and performance are all up to par with Acura’s rigorous standards, a NVH and paint inspection booth, and finally a weather station, where the engineers test the supercar for leaks. All of this is because this facility, and every single person who works there, sweats details. “Is this correct? Is that the right tolerance? Can we improve this tool?” These questions separate Acura from the rest of the field and are a wonder to experience.

As mentioned before, production of customer cars will begin in April, only pre-production test mules are being built at the moment. These cars are likely to be used as press loans and safety testing, among other uses. Once production of customer cars does begin though, the PMC will be able to build eight to 10 NSXs each day, and Acura will begin to invite customers to come down to the factory and see their personal car being built. After production begins, however, it’s up to Acura’s customers whether or not this laborious process was worth the price and the protracted wait. Will the scrupulous nature of the PMC ensure that the new Acura NSX is a success? We’ll have to wait and see.

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